Board’s Special Needs Cut Threat

One of Northern Ireland’s education boards faces legal action unless it agrees to cost-cutting measures. The South Eastern board has until 1800 GMT on Thursday to implement the cuts, which will affect special needs pupils.

The government has warned board members that it is their last chance to make the difficult decisions which would keep them financially solvent. Some board members have previously vowed to never pass measures which would damage children’s education.

For several months, South Eastern board employees have been trying to get agreement from board members on a package of cost-cutting measures which will affect pupils with special needs.

Last month, board members voted not to put through the multi-million pound cost-cutting measures because they wanted more time to consult with teachers.

The measures include cutbacks in special units and in the number of classroom assistants. Some would take effect as early as September.

The permanent secretary of the Department of Education has warned that if the deadline is not met, court action could follow and legal costs would have to be paid by the board.

Trade unions have protested about the proposed cutbacks, while some council members remain opposed to the changes.